American Studies home page

Kathleen Sands

Kathleen Sands

PhD Boston College

Religion in America
Religion and Law
Women in Religion
Christian History
Theory of Religion

Kathleen Sands was educated at Harvard Divinity School (M.T.S.) and Boston College (Ph.D.).  She previously taught at the University of Massachusetts in Boston, where she directed the Religious Studies program and was jointly appointed in American Studies and Women’s Studies.

Although trained in theology, Professor Sands’ research has expanded into religion and sexuality, religions in American history/law/public life, and critical religious studies. She has lectured at many universities in the U.S., including Harvard Divinity School, Yale Divinity School, the University of California at Santa Cruz, Drew Divinity School, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She is author of Escape From Paradise: Evil and Tragedy in Feminist Theology, and editor of God Forbid: Religion and Sex in American Public Life. Her articles have appeared in New Literary History, The Journal of Theology and Culture, The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, and in many anthologies and encyclopedias.  They cover a wide range of topics, including humor (“If, Ands, and Butts”), tragedy (“Feminist and Theology in the Time After Time”), sexuality (“Sex and Eros in Feminist Theology”), sacred lands (“A Property of Peculiar Value: Land, Religion and the Constitution”), women and religion in the U.S. (“Feminisms and Secularisms in the U.S.), pedagogy (“Coming Out and Leading Out”), loneliness (“A Room of One’s Own: Loneliness as Privilege, Suffering and Opening”) and even an occasional foray into film (“Still Dreaming of a White Christmas: War, Memory, and Nostalgia in the American Christmas). She also writes occasional pieces for online publications, including Religion Dispatches and Civil Beat.

Public activism always has been a crucial dimension of Professor Sands’ work. She was among the plaintifs in the Young v. Lingle (2010) lawsuit, which helped secure the passage of Hawai‘i’s Civil Union legislation. She’s been involved in civil disobedience and other public actions against war, nuclear weaponry, and the maldistribution of wealth and has advocated for affordable housing, public education, and other progressive causes. In service to her profession, she sat on the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Religion, and now chairs the Academy’s Law, Religion and Culture Group. For many years, she belonged to the editorial board of The Journal of Feminist Studies of Religion and for the past several years has served on the editorial board of The Journal of Law and Religion. She also belongs to the Workgroup on Constructive Theology, a small collective of U.S. theologians whose founding figures include Paul Tillich and David Tracy. She has been a research fellow at Harvard University’s Center for the Study of Values in Public Life, and at the Radcliffe Center for Advanced Studies.

Presently, Professor Sands is writing a book on religion in American public life.